How to Pass the PTCB

The most important asset that you have is yourself. Take advantage of it and remember that no matter what happens you’re going to do fine. In my experience, regardless of the situation, positive attitudes yield positive results. Just like most standardized tests, the PTCB has a variety of general knowledge questions. What most people don’t realize is that this test is basically broken up into three different sections: Law, Hospital, and Retail. Here’s the basic breakdown of what to expect from these different categories.

Law: This is quite possibly both the easiest and the hardest section. Unfortunately laws are just one of those things either you know it or you don’t. Depending on how good you are at memorizing facts this can either help or hinder you. I can’t make you any promises; but, when I took the test this was the shortest section of the test. They only asked me like 10-12 questions of law which might sound like a lot to some, but remember my test was somewhere nearly 100 questions long. For this section you should know all the laws that lead up to and created the FDA such as The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 and The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Expect questions like “what form is necessary for the destruction of controlled substances?”

Hospital: If you’re a math guru well then this is where you will surely strive. Most of the questions for the hospital setting are mixed with calculations. Such as how to convert pounds to kilograms, how to convert concentrations in ml to mg, and how to connect these two ideas using the mg/kg dosage chart that they will provide you with. Be sure to read the question very carefully because sometimes they’ll try and trick you. For example, “if the order is for 1mg/kg, the patient weighs 132 pounds, and the only concentration you have is 5mg/ml. What is the total amount of medication in mg you should send for the patient?” Did you remember to convert pounds to kilograms? Did you notice that your concentration has nothing to do with the final answer? The correct answer is 60mg.

Retail: Once again depending on your memorization skills this can either be one of the easiest or hardest parts of the test. Most of this section includes brand names, generic names, alternative brands, alternative generics, Sig Codes, mechanisms of action, contraindications, side effects, and drug classifications. It’s a lot to know but remember most drugs under the same drug classification have a lot of the same side effects and contraindications. So really make sure that you have this down pact before you get in there. For example, nitroglycerin is a medication commonly used to and comes in various forms and strengths. You might see a question like “what two BRAND names of nitroglycerin are interchangeable?” Or something like “when is nitroglycerin contraindicated?”

Remember you are your biggest asset and make sure you have a few good nights’ sleep before going in for the test. Try and do whatever you can to relieve your anxiety as much as you can before and while taking the test. Have a good healthy breakfast and try to squeeze in some vitamin C that morning as well.

BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, more important than anything else so far. Know what you know, and know what you don’t know that way if you do need a little bit of help. Someone like me will be able to guide you in the right direction without trying to waste any of your precious time.


Joseph B.

Math and Pharmacy Tutor, if you find a better price I'll beat it

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